Opinion: Rep. Skelton Is Splitting Hairs
A letter to the editor regarding lawsuit filed by Skelton over June 12 primary results.
The state law has long stated a candidate has to submit his statement of economic interest form at the “same time and with the same official with whom the candidate files a declaration of candidacy”. Having entered the electronic age, a law was added a couple of years ago requiring the statement of economic interest form to be filed on-line.
When the law was added to, the first law was not modified, so the two requirements are not in synch. This has made it difficult to satisfy these different parts of the law when filing to be a candidate, in particular, when filing to be a challenger. Incumbents are not affected by these requirements when filing for office.
The only way for a candidate to satisfy these two parts of the law is to first file his statement of economic interest on-line, print a copy and then file that same form a second time when he physically files to be a candidate and submits his form to be on the ballot.
Naturally, most challengers asked themselves, why file the statement of economic interest form a second time? As a result, some did not. Those who later realized the broken law required them to file that statement, re-filed their statement a few days later, but not at the “same time” they submitted their declaration of candidacy as the first law requires.
At the “same time” is the legal technically or phrase being exploited here.
Republican BR Skelton is suing fellow Republican Ed Harris, his county Republican Party, his state Republican Party and other officials. While Ed Harris filed his statement of economic interest on-line and filed it a second time when he filed to be a candidate, Skelton claims Harris did not file his statement of economic interest the second time at the “same time” he filed to be a candidate on the ballot.
Mr. Skelton may prevail because of this legal technically (the court will decide in August), but to me Mr. Skelton is painfully splitting legal hairs to win an election he lost fair and square to Harris on June 12th.
Not only that, this lawsuit puts an even worse taste in the mouth of voters who are already upset so many challengers were thrown off the June 12th ballot. This lawsuit shows just how far (too far) some incumbents will go to hold on to power because they feel entitled to a position, even when the voters have voted them out.
While no one Republican in the state legislature is to blame for this, Republicans as a whole (the party that controls the legislature, that modified this law and left it so convoluted), have to shoulder most of the blame here.